(東京) Tokyo is the capital of Japan and the largest international city in the world in terms of population and economics. Cutting-edge technologies, highly-developed subway system, pop-culture, delicious food are there, and almost anything you can eat and buy in Tokyo.
Since more than four hundreds years ago, Tokyo has been the center of Japan. Despite the severe damages of war and earthquakes, Tokyo revived repeatedly and currently exists as the mixture of modern and traditional cultures. Major ‘Must-See’ spots are located close, connected conveniently via the train system and accessible in 30 min from Tokyo station. Many spots to visit, a lot of restaurants, a number of hotels and other cultural funs are available here.
(富士) Centering on Japan’s highest and most graceful mountain, Mt.Fuji, there are large lakes and historical shrines which are culturally associated with each other for thousands of years – all of them are listed on world heritage. Not just its appearance, climbing up Mt.Fuji and seeing the sunrise from the top of the mountain is a popular activity, which requires sufficient preparation and at least one-night stay during climbing. Also, spending the vacation at the shore of Kawaguchiko lake and enjoying onsen with a view of Mt.Fuji is awesome. Visiting Fuji-Q Highland, Japan’s representative amusement park with multiple Guinness Records for the thrill rides and anime-themed attractions is also another highlight in this district.
1. Mt. Fuji 富士山
Mt. Fuji is Japan’s highest mountain with the altitude of 3,776m, which has been the holy mountain and the “god” itself for Japanese people since an ancient era because of its magnificent beauty and the extraordinary spiritualness associated with the catastrophic eruption happened many times in its history. Many shrines were founded and constructed around Mt. Fuji for calming the anger of Mt. Fuji and still many of them present as they were. Including the large lakes surrounding Mt. Fuji, those historical shrines and Mt. Fuji were added on the list of World Heritage because of their historically valuable backgrounds. Now it’s a common activity to climb up to the top of Mt. Fuji and to see the “Goraiko”, a view of sunrise, staying one night at the inn located around the eighth station of Mt.Fuji and spending almost entire two days. It’s a hard activity and needs proper preparations for climbing.
3. Fuji-Q Highland 富士急ハイランド
One of Japan’s top amusement parks, Fuji-Q Highland is proud of a close view of Mt. Fuji and various sorts of thrill rides which have acquired total 14 Guinness World Records so far. Besides thrill rides, there are many attractions and areas themed on anime such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Gaspard and Lisa, Evangelion and others. Now it’s decided that no more new thrill ride will be added because of consideration to the scenery of Mt. Fuji so you should visit and try here if you like thrill rides.
4. Kitaguchi-Hongū-Fuji-Sengen Shrine北口本宮冨士浅間神社
One of the world heritage assets, this ancient shrine is famous for its strongly-spiritual atmosphere created by gorgeously-decorated shrine buildings which were constructed in around 1594-1739 and the enormous old trees of 1,000 years old. It dates from 1,900 years ago, and original shrine buildings were constructed in 788 for calming the volcano activity of Mt. Fuji, which brought significant damage to this district. Famous for the fire festival Yoshida-no-himatsuri which takes place in 26-27Aug.
5. Fujisan-hongū-sengen-taisha shrine富士山本宮浅間大社
A world heritage asset, this ancient shrine is the head shrine of 1,300 Asama/Sengen shrines located all over Japan. As the center of the faith in Mt.Fuji, this magnificent shrine boasts of the large shrine ground and graceful shrine buildings which were constructed in 1604 by Ieyasu Tokugawa. This shrine was founded for making Mt.Fuji’s volcano activity calm down, and after that, Sengen/Asama shrines spread to the rest of Japan. In spring, a view of historic buildings with full blooming cherry blossom is terrific.
6. Oshikyu-togawake house御師旧外川家住宅
Founded in the year of 1869, the shrine enshrines souls of more than two million soldiers as the gods, who died in the wars since the end of Edo period until today. Famous as the notable place for full-blooming cherry blossom in spring and splendid shrine architectures and battle plane exhibited in Yūshūkan are worth seeing.
7. Fuji-murosengen shrine冨士御室浅間神社
One of world heritage assets, this shrine was founded in 699 at the 2nd station of Mt. Fuji but due to the too-close distant from Mt. Fuji, the buildings were gone many times because of the eruption and current buildings constructed in 1612 were moved to the present location, at the south shore of Kawaguchi-ko lake in 1974. It’s proud of 200 cherry blossom trees and Yabusame festival that takes place on Apr29.
8. Kawaguchi-asama shrine河口浅間神社
One of the world heritage components, the ancient shrine was founded in 865 because of the massive eruption of Mt. Fuji happened in the previous year. The current buildings were constructed in 1607, and the major repair was done around 60 years ago. The highlight is the splendid scenery of vermilion-colored historical buildings with the seven old cedar trees of 1,200 years old and hundreds of cedar trees of more than 800 years old.
9. Funazu Tainai Lava Tree Molds船津胎内樹型
One of world heritage components, the more than 100 lava tree mold caves are trees coated with solid lava flowed out from Mt. Fuji upon the eruption. It’s good to stroll around inside of those caves and feel the fascinating nature.
10. Kawaguchi-ko lake 河口湖
One of world heritage assets and one of Fuji five lakes, Kawaguchi-ko lake is proud of seasonal view with the close Mt. Fuji, reflecting Mt. Fuji on its surface. Taking a boat on the lake, staying at onsen ryokan/hotel on the shore, and visiting around nearby museums and historic places are the ways to enjoy this area.
11. Arakurayama Sengen Park新倉山浅間公園
One of the best view spot of Mt. Fuji boasts of the beautiful scenery of Mt.Fuji with the five-story pagoda after climbing up 397 steps. In spring (or autumn), a landscape with 650 cherry blossom trees (or autumn leaves) can be seen, and that is the reason why many travelers from foreign countries visit here. Sakura festival takes place during the early-mid of Apr.
(軽井沢) The summer resort beloved by world’s celebrities is proud of its moderate climate and beautiful nature from spring to autumn, which is the best for evacuation from crazily-hot Tokyo in summer because Karuizawa locates at the high altitude (1,000m) and accessible from Tokyo in one hour via Shinkansen. In an abundant nature, you can spend an extremely-relaxing moment eating/drinking at a fashionable cafe and restaurant, visiting around nature spots and cultural spots, and staying at a sophisticated hotel. The best season to visit would be from May to Oct, and traveling around in winter should be harsh. As it’s situated on the way of Hokuriku-Shinkansen, it might be a good option to drop off in the middle of Kanazawa travel from Tokyo. Also, Hoshino Area, run by Hoshino Resort Group which is one of the most luxury hotel brands in Japan, is also must-visit.
1. Kumoba-ike pond 雲場池
This calm pond is proud of the beautiful nature scenery of mirror-surface and a surrounding greenery which changes seasonally; fresh green in spring, colored leaves in autumn, and trees covered with snow in winter. It takes 30min to walk around the pond. It’s getting famous for travelers and one of the must-see spots in Karuizawa.
2. Kyu-Karuizawa Ginza Street 旧軽井沢銀座通り
This ancient shrine dating from 730 is well-known as the base for one of Tokyo’s three greatest festivals, Kanda Festival, which takes place in around middle of May every year with around 1,300 years history. The current buildings were constructed in 1934 in a reinforced concrete after the huge earthquake in Tokyo so it could survive from air strikes during the war. It’s told that once you visit Kanda Myojin, then you shouldn’t visit Narita-san Shinshōji temple due to their historical background.